BuzzFeed has been working tirelessly to establish its reputation as a provider of high-quality, investigative news, alongside the fun listicles and quizzes on which it has thrived. And Ridley’s role is centered around driving that mission and figuring out where and how BuzzFeed should focus its long-form efforts.
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Here’s how she spent a recent day:
6:30 a.m.: I’m woken by my alarm and the Today program coming on. I have a lamp that gradually lights up the room as you wake up — essential for dark winter mornings. I listen for half an hour or so to get on top of the main news.
7:10 a.m.: Get up and check my phone for app alerts that have arrived overnight, any messages and any big news on Twitter I’ve not yet seen. I edit our long-form and special projects, but I make sure I’m on top of regular news as well, as any story could inspire a longer project, and I occasionally edit general news if we need extra hands on deck.
8:10 a.m.: Onto the Tube, where I often read Private Eye, but today it’s my current book: “The Year Of Living Danishly.”
8:30 a.m.: Arrive in our office in Oxford Circus and check into Slack, the messaging tool BuzzFeed uses for pretty much all communication — from memes to breaking news. I’ll see what has done well on the site overnight using our in-house analytics. I’ll then get a quick handle on the news I’ve not yet come across: through social media, newspaper front pages, Google News and services like Newswhip, and the Sky and BBC apps. If there’s anything notable, or that I have an idea about, I’ll flag it with the other news editors.
8:45 a.m.: Grab an all-important cup of tea, water and cereal which we get provided in the office (Corn Flakes if it’s a sensible day, Coco Pops if it’s a day when I’ll need an extra boost.)
9:00 a.m.: The news team gathers for our morning news meeting, led by our news editor Alan White. It’s pretty informal: Everyone chips in. We’ll run through the highlights from the previous day and then open up to ideas from everyone. Today, the Brexit Supreme Court case is ongoing. I’m often trying to think beyond the breaking news to work out which stories we could invest more time in to produce longer, engaging content that will still be relevant in a few days, weeks or even months.
9:15 a.m.: From this point, my days vary hugely depending on what projects I’m working on. Today, I’m editing a long-form piece from our senior reporter Patrick Smith, who has secured a set of exclusive diaries from hundreds of prisoners in jails around the U.K. It’s moving, dark and at times funny — real, human voices behind a growing crisis. Pat has cut down the diaries from 10,000 words to 4,000, and I’m going through them for a second time as well as editing an introduction. We commissioned illustrations from our in-house illustrators, and specialist photos from prisons, so we check in on how those are progressing. We’re also making a video to showcase some diary extracts, so I speak to our video guru Luke Bailey to work on the script.
11:30 a.m.: Move on to work on a story with another of our senior reporters, Aisha Gani, who specializes in Muslim affairs. She’s found a great story connected to the Government’s Prevent program (it’s not out yet so I can’t reveal more…), which she’s developing using the sensitivity that is a key part of her beat.
12:30 p.m.: Today is Wednesday, which means free lunch at BuzzFeed. Today it’s baked potatoes — I pick one topped with borlotti beans.
1:00 p.m.: I pop out for some air and some errands. I’m a big fan of taking a full lunch hour if you can, or at least getting out of the office. It makes people happier and more productive.
2:00 p.m.: Head for coffee with Lisa Tozzi, our global news director who has come over from New York. It’s really valuable to often have colleagues visiting from other offices. Tozzi worked at the New York Times before joining BuzzFeed and has been a big influence on the team over here. My job can involve working with people across the company, so in the last week I’ve spoken on Google Hangouts to Steve Kandell, our long-form editor in the U.S., and Jina Moore, our international women’s rights correspondent in Berlin.
2.30 p.m.: Catch up with Peter Heneghan, our head of communications, whom I work with to try to get wider media attention for our pieces if possible. We talk about what I like to call an upcoming data dump from our special correspondent James Ball, an analysis of over 3 million tweets about Brexit. I arrange to get Peter some screenshots of the interactive graphs in James’ piece, which have been created by our New Formats team who are basically wizards.
3:00 p.m.: Quick check in with Patrick Strudwick, our LGBT editor. We recently worked together on his harrowing, unprecedented look at the dangers of chemsex. Such a huge piece of work means he now has amazing insight into this area, so we discuss which of his future possible stories he could look into next.
3:15 p.m.: Hold our bi-weekly news plotting meeting, where the news team gets together and brainstorms around a specific theme. This week we’re thinking of projects around disability, and the team comes up with some great plans. It’s amazing what comes out when you get people together and focus on one topic.
4:00 p.m.: Check in with our new art director Tim Lane, who shows me the rough concept for illustrations for a piece for next year. They have a punky, Sex Pistols style and match the tone of the draft article perfectly. Tim’s introducing a lot more art into our long pieces, bringing the pull quotes and other page furniture into the overall design.
4.30 p.m.: Have a quick check-in with the writers I manage, to catch up on what’s on their agenda for the next day.
5 p.m.: Things start to wind down around now, so I’m usually finishing off whatever I’m up to and sorting emails. A long-form pitch from a freelancer comes in, which I’ll review tomorrow. Unless there’s anything pressing, I head out to the tourist-filled streets of central London by 5.30 p.m.
Image: Taken by Rebecca Hendin, BuzzFeed.
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